Thinking about priorities


We estimate there are up to 30,000 hotel rooms available in Edinburgh. This figure is based on information from the Edinburgh Hotels Association (EHA) and the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG). Speaking on behalf of the EHA in February 2020, Russell Imrie reported Edinburgh had built too many hotel rooms, saying that some hotel rooms remain empty, even during Festivals. Since 2011, 5,000 hotel rooms were built in Edinburgh. Planning permission had been secured to build 2,400 more. Four years ago, ETAG reported Edinburgh had 23,690 rooms (page 10). In 2018, the City Council reported hotel occupancy was 82.9% (page 13).

Edinburgh had 19,500 purpose-built student spaces in 2018 (Page 27). The figure may be closer to 22,500 today (is this true?)

We believe there are 970 short-term lets in Old Town. This figure is based on three sources of information. The UK Census undertaken in 2011 found there were 4,130 dwellings in the areas represented by OTCC (Table 9). The Guardian reported in February 2020 that 29% of homes in Old Town (1,197) were listed on Airbnb. OTCC found in December 2017 that 81% of Old Town homes listed on Airbnb, were short-term lets (970).

There are less than 10 shops in the areas represented by OTCC, available for residents to shop for locally produced food (is this true?). Much of the shop signage in Old Town does not comply with ‘Guidance for Business’ (pages 13 to 16).

Edinburgh has 11 principle festivals (page 14). Most of them take place in Old Town. The Fringe is the World’s most ticketed event, after the Olympics and the football World Cup (point 3). The International Festival receives annual funding of about £2m per annum.

Changes we want introduced 

  • Walking Groups – well-behaved and guides know Old Town’s history /culture. Limit their size to 20 guests ? A new complaints process is introduced.
  • Hop-on Hop-off buses – are made useful to the City, through regulation, allowing workers and locals use them? *how*
  • Short-term lets – cut the number of short-term lets in Old Town from 970 to ? by April 2021. Introduce licensing.
  • Hotels – no new hotel planning permissions granted in Old Town May 2020.
  • Student housing – no new planning permissions granted in Old Town, from May 2020
  • Introduce a transparent Licensing process similar to planning, by April 2021. No new pub licences. No new souvenir shops.
  • Fringe – cut the numbers of Old Town venues in 2021, to 50% of what they were in 2019.
  • WPSG – limit all events to a maximum of 3,000 people. Except Virgin Fireworks and Hogmanay?
  • EPSG – No markets. No festivals.


  • Continue monthly meetings online.
  • Continue to respond to planning & licensing applications.
  • Deal with any requests from residents of the Old Town.
  • Put something about how to get local help for issues like social isolation, shopping, food etc on the website.
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